Coach Pay puts the bite back in Bulldogs

It's back to the past and back to basics at Belmore.

After one of the most tumultuous summers at "the family club", Canterbury have undergone drastic change heading into the 2018 NRL season.

After the controversial sacking of coach Des Hasler, Dean Pay took the reins and promised a take-no-prisoners brand of football that harks back to the Dogs of War era.

He has the faith and backing of a new board, headed by Lynne Anderson, which swept to power at the expense of long-time powerbroker Ray Dib.

Dib paid the price for widespread dissatisfaction among members after Canterbury's 11th-place finish and the exit of favourite son Josh Reynolds.

Anger about the departure of Reynolds was largely misdirected given the club tried to keep him but couldn't match the Wests Tigers' four-year deal.

Not even the recruitment of Kieran Foran and Aaron Woods could save Dib's position and this year shapes as a fresh start from the board room to the locker room.

In his first press conference as coach, Pay promised to introduce "a bit of madness" into the Dogs pack.

While captain Josh Jackson said that will show, he said the biggest shake up has been the simplification of their game plan.

Hasler was known as the most meticulous and, perhaps, hardest-working coach in the NRL, however, his team was criticised for being too rigid in game plan and overcomplicating things.

Their inability to hold onto the ball and score points showed in the statistics - the Bulldogs conceded the third-least tries in the competition (75) yet won just 10 games.

"He (Pay) wants us to play aggressive. Every coach wants their team to play aggressive," Jackson said of the coach.

"Looking back at the way the Dogs were in the past, they had a pretty aggressive team.

"But the best thing for us is he's really simplified things.

"We have worked hard on basic skills, basic catching and passing and things like that because last year they let us down a hell of a lot.

"We missed a lot of opportunities just through basic things like that, dropped balls and not being able to execute plays properly."

So much of the Bulldogs' fate will rest with playmaker Foran - after his move from the Warriors - and Moses Mbye, who has shifted from the halves to fullback.

Foran had a forgettable two years after well-publicised personal problems and shoulder and hamstring injuries, which restricted him to 26 appearances across 2016 and 2017.

He looked well below his best and hobbled by injury for the Warriors last year, however, Jackson said he had worked diligently to get his body right since landing back in Australia.

"When he first came over in October, he was pretty busted and beaten up," Jackson said.

"He's been through a lot the last couple of years. He's worked really hard since October.

"He came in before anyone else, he was working with the physios and the rehab team.

"He's got himself into really good shape. He's looking really good on the field.

"His experience and his skill level, it gives us a lot of confidence."

Mbye was once considered an Origin player in waiting but his career stagnated the past two years while in the halves.

Jackson said he looked revitalised playing at fullback.

"He looks outstanding," he said.

"He's got a good turn of pace and he's very skilful.

"He played in the halves and this year he'll just get a little bit more space to play at fullback.

"That'll be handy for him."

BULLDOGS

Ladder finishes over the past three seasons: 2017 - 11th, 2016 - 7th, 2015 - 5th

Coach: Dean Pay

Captain: Josh Jackson

Gains: Aaron Woods (Wests Tigers), Kieran Foran (Warriors), Moses Suli (Wests Tigers), Fa'amanu Brown (Cronulla), John Olive (Gold Coast), Clay Priest (Canberra)

Losses: James Graham (St George Illawarra), Josh Reynolds (Wests Tigers), Brad Abbey (Canberra), Craig Garvey (Canberra), Sam Kasiano (Melbourne), Brenko Lee (Gold Coast), Tyrone Phillips (Penrith)

1. Moses Mbye, 2. Brett Morris, 3. Josh Morris, 4. Will Hopoate, 5. Marcelo Montoya, 6. Kieran Foran, 7. Matt Frawley, 8. Aaron Woods, 9. Michael Lichaa, 10. Aiden Tolman, 11. Josh Jackson, 12. Adam Elliott, 13. David Klemmer. Bench: 14. Fa'amanu Brown, 15. Greg Eastwood, 16. Raymond Faitala-Mariner, 17. Danny Fualalo

Predicted finish: 11th

Betting: $34